Recent times & thoughts in Oakland

Exciting news: After just a little over a month here Pais Oakland will finally be starting our schools ministry! This upcoming Monday we will begin tutoring, reading, helping in the lunch room, and doing recess duty at a local school very close to our church. I am feeling very excited about the opportunity God has given us at this school. I am also very much looking forward to doing something. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been doing things the past few weeks here in Oakland. 
I’ve been getting to know people & the area. I know the names of a handful of local business owners around here. 
I’ve been perusing the local coffee shops and trying decide which one is my favorite. (So far Haddon & Farley’s East are neck and neck. Offer suggestions in comments below!) 

I’ve been attending home group and getting to know a handful of people very well.
I’ve been doing lots of reading. I’ve read 5 books in 2015 so far and I am currently reading two books right now that I should finish soon. 
I’ve been eating new foods cooked by lovely new friends and local shops around. 
I’ve been doing the “Pais” things such as Haverim Devotions + watching our training Livewire videos. 
I’ve been camping at Pinnacles National Park. 

I’ve knit and crocheted about 6 hats in less than two weeks. 

I’ve been walking around stunning Lake Merritt. 
I’ve been educating myself on the Cosmos and how to attain the highest level of sass and sarcasm thanks to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s WONDERFUL series Cosmos (ON NETFLIX – go watch it now!)

And just this morning I went to the beautiful Grand Lake Farmers Market! I bought this beautiful bouquet there.


So see, I’ve been doing things…. But why have I felt so empty recently? 

Not in a spiritual way, I feel like my relationship with God is blossoming and growing in new and beautiful ways daily. Not really in a romantic way either, things aren’t totally peachy in that category either but after 24 consecutive years as a single lady you learn to just live with that.  

More like in a Leslie Knope way. I am craving work. I thought it would be nice to have a smooth transition and a lax schedule as we pioneered The Pais Project in Oakland but that is exactly what I have struggled with the most.

I want to be exhausted at night from a good day of working for God’s kingdom. I still want time to do all those amazing things that I mentioned above, but I am overjoyed that this Monday we will start in school! 

Sitting around with lots of free time has been bad for me in a few ways. My eating habits are weird. I sleep more than I probably should but it’s a restless sleep. I think too much. 

The ample free time has finally given me some time to reflect on my experiences in England. Even though I returned from England more than 6 months ago I immediately dove into my work with Pais Fort Worth and I’m not sure if I ever really took the time to deal with the rawness and emotional hurt that took place there. I left England with many friends but I also left feeling hurt and degraded. The experience I had with my church leaders there was in all honestly the worst leaders I have ever worked under. That is a huge hurtful statement, I know. Let me clarify. They are great leaders, and I learned many wonderful things from the leaders I was placed under at my church there. When I say they are the worst leaders I have ever worked under what I truly mean is that the other leaders I have worked under were outstanding. I had never worked under leaders that I didn’t think were spectacular inspiring people. God really tested me and looking back I know I made many wrong choices during my time in England, yet I still firmly believe that many of the ways I was treated and talked to by my leaders was uncalled for and showed a lack of maturity and integrity from the leaders directly above me. 

Moving on. What I mean to get out of this spilling of my emotional guts is that I am now haunted by some of the words spoken against and about me in England. I was told that I wasn’t fit to be a leader, I lacked integrity. I was a gossip. I was disrespectful. Among other things. I won’t dispute those. As I said before I know I said and did things that I know were wrong. Here’s the difference, in the past leaders had always spoken to me in a helpful encouraging way. Helping me see my faults and encouraging me to do better, they could see the leadership potential in me and wanted to make it grow in the most healthy way possible.

My leaders in England reacted differently, mostly I was chided for my actions and encouraged not to be a better leader, but to give up on leading. 

This is what is hindering me now.

Since Pais Oakland has had a rocky start from the beginning: team members in flux, a new style of housing, a new state, etc. I have been intimidated by the task that lay before me as the team leader of pioneering Team Oakland. 
I have continually questioned whether I was the person for this task. Regardless of what had happened in England I am sure these thoughts would still be floating around in my head, yet thanks to the ample amount of free time coupled with the words said to me in the past it has been a major struggle to feel confident here. It is still something I am daily dealing with. 
I hope that soon as we begin to work more in school that I will find more confidence in myself.
I know that this confidence won’t come from me, it comes from God. God has been generous enough to give me the chance to help build and grow his Kingdom in Oakland and I don’t want to let Him down.
Thanks for reading this emotionally raw blog post – please pray for the Team as we start our ministry and continue to settle into life in the East Bay!
Jen xx

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